Friday qualifying - selected driver quotes 12 Sep 2003
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (1st, 1m 21.268s):
"I wasn't very comfortable with the balance of my car this morning but we made some changes which put it back on the right track and I think we should be pretty competitive now. Before qualifying I wasn't too sure about what the car was going to do but it ran as expected, which means we did a good job. We were quite quick in last week's test here, which makes us confident for the rest of the weekend. We should perform better tomorrow when the track will be cleaner. It's obviously ideal to be ahead of Michael and Kimi, but what counts is tomorrow, not today, really."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (disqualified after cutting chicane):
"My qualifying today was compromised by a mistake I made just before the chicane. I simply braked too late and went straight on, which was my fault. The handling of the car was very good, which is promising for tomorrow's qualifying and the race on Sunday. I have tested the modified tyres today for the first time and must say they are a step forward for us. Ferrari is very strong here as expected and we need to work hard."
Nick Heidfeld, Sauber (12th, 1m 22.547s):
"I think we have changed the set-up a little bit too much between the practice session this morning and qualifying, which consequently made it harder to handle the car. In addition, the track surface was quite dirty after the break and the wind whirled leaves into the air. However, my time showed that we are on the right track."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber (9th, 1m 22.203s):
"I had a good qualifying lap and I am happy with my time and the result. We made some set up alterations to my C22 for qualifying which gave it a better balance than this morning, and my ninth place confirms our recent improvement in form."
Jenson Button, BAR (11th, 1m 22.495s):
"It was quite a good lap but I'm a little bit disappointed because I was quicker in free practice. There was a lot less grip out there this afternoon and I had quite a lot of understeer in the high-speed corners. It's only Friday though and we're a little more optimistic for the rest of the weekend. There were quite a lot of fallen leaves and gusty winds out there today, so when the track picks up tomorrow we should be able to qualify in the top 10 quite easily. Last week in testing we found a tyre that is consistent and when all of those factors come together I'm sure we can do a lot better."
Jacques Villeneuve, BAR (13th, 1m 22.858s):
"Today is not a very satisfying day because we didn't complete our programme in free practice this morning due to an electrical problem. Because of that we weren't able to run in qualy spec, so this afternoon it was just a case of trying to complete a clean lap to leave us in a reasonable position for the start of final qualifying. Hopefully we will get a better day tomorrow without any problems and that should make all the difference."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (7th, 1m 22.034s):
"A trouble-free day for me. The car is handling OK, but we still have some work to do in order to find more speed. Having said that, we are where we expected to be in the overall standings."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (8th, 1m 22.103s):
"For my timed lap, the car was a little nervous in the chicanes and I had a bit too much understeer. With this low-downforce set-up, it is hard for us to be competitive with our usual rivals. For tomorrow, we must look to improve the overall grip of the car, close the gap to those in front and get a better grid position in order that we can fight for a good result in the race."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 20.784s)::
"I set quite a good time. There was a lot of wind, which made the car rather nervous. We are very close to our rivals and I think everything is in place for us to go for pole tomorrow and to try to win on Sunday. This morning, we had a few problems, but were solved them in time for qualifying. We have a good starting point on which to develop thecar over the next two days. The Bridgestone tyres worked well and we have reaped the benefits of last week's test."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 21.268s)::
"It was quite a good lap. The fact that, once again, I was first out on track was certainly not an advantage, even though this has been the situation so often this season. I am happy with the time I set and the position from which I will tackle tomorrow's qualifying session. I think we have a good base on which to work for the next couple of days. Now we have to see how competitive we are up against our rivals."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th, 1m 21.966s):
"I wanted to look after the car, but it wasn't as good a lap as it could've been and not as fast as this morning's, but we should be OK for tomorrow. Fifth place is not too bad, everything seems to be working well and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
David Coulthard, McLaren (14th, 1m 23.154s):
"We had a productive morning session, but on my qualifying lap I made a mistake at the second chicane. The rear axle locked as a result of the automatic downshift cutting in and I had to drop my speed, which lost me a lot of time. Overall I think we are in reasonable shape and if we have a trouble free session tomorrow we should qualify well."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan (16th, 1m 24.179s):
"It's frustrating and I'm disappointed to be three and a half seconds off the pace at my home Grand Prix. I used the spare car today because I felt there was some problem with my race car, maybe we'll fix it for tomorrow."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Jordan (17th, 1m 24.872s):
"I was quite happy with today and I'm pleased that I was able to do the same lap time in dirtier track conditions than this morning. I hope tomorrow I can do the same thing again or a bit quicker with a time closer to Giancarlo. That's the goal."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (6th, 1m 21.966s):
"I had a rather difficult morning in preparation for qualifying and I am surprised at having secured 6th place today. The track is certainly a lot slower than when we tested here last week and while it's pleasing to have posted the 6th fastest time today, my focus is firmly on Sunday's race. That was a good lap but the wind here is a problem. The cars are running in downforce trim and you really feel it in Ascari and through the Parabolica corners. It also takes a while to arrive in 7th gear as you head towards the first chicane and judging the exact braking point is tough - as we saw with Ralf Schumacher today. It's not easy! The one-lap pace is something we are usually very strong at but we have a fair deal of work ahead of us if we are to remain competitive over a race distance."
Justin Wilson, Jaguar (15th, 1m 23.609s):
"A frustrating day that hasn't ended too well for me. My morning sessions were both compromised with a gearbox problem during the two-hour test and an engine problem in Free Practice. The track is slower and feels different to when we tested last week and I didn't get any low fuel runs prior to qualifying. This hindered me considerably, especially when it comes to understanding the limit of the car and tyres. Nonetheless, Friday qualifying means little and there is still ample time in which to make a difference this weekend."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (4th, 1m 21.829s):
"I am very happy with my qualifying time. Since the first few laps this morning we have been more confident than we were at the test last week. I want to thank the engineers, who have all done a good job over the weekend to study the data from last week and to make the car stronger. It makes a difference to have driven the three days last week, because I have not had to spend time learning the track this morning and I have been able to get a good feeling with the car. Fourth place is certainly a good way to start the weekend."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (10th, 1m 22.372s):
"It has been a difficult day for me today, but I am generally quite happy with tenth place. I wasn't really comfortable with the car in this morning's session and we had a few small mechanical problems, so I decided to take the T-car for qualifying. In the end, there wasn't much difference, but we'll work hard on things tonight to improve the car for tomorrow. On a more positive note, I am pleased for Cristiano - he drove very well today."
Nicolas Kiesa, Minardi (18th, 1m 26.299s):
"Unfortunately, we had so many difficulties this morning, I only managed 11 laps, and virtually every one of those was interrupted by a problem. In the following one-hour session, I only managed two laps before the gearbox developed a fault. I went into qualifying this afternoon with just a very small number of laps under my belt, and none of them at anything like optimum performance. The track conditions and the weather changed this afternoon, with the wind really picking up, so I wasn't sure what to expect on my qualifying lap - it was like going out for the first lap of the day. Anyway, I hope the team has got rid of all its bad luck today and that things improve significantly tomorrow."
Jos Verstappen, Minardi (no time):
"The morning test session went well enough, but then we were slower in the official practice session, so we went back on our set-up and it would therefore have been interesting to see how we would have gone in qualifying this afternoon. Unfortunately, when we started the engine on my car for the qualifying run, it simply wouldn't run properly. It is obviously very disappointing."